What You Need To Know About Lintel Inspections

A lintel is a form of structural support, often a beam, over openings in the building envelope, such as doors or windows. Lintels can sometimes be seen from the outside and worked into the overall design of the home; however, this isn’t always the case. The lintel can be covered following the lintel inspection and blended into the exterior of the home.

What You Need To Know About Lintel Inspections

Windows and doors are not structural members of a building, and these openings leave a load above the window or doorway that needs to be supported. Lintels are important to help transfer the load above the opening to the side walls of the opening.

Lintels are commonly made of steel or timber, however, may also be made of other materials:

  • Stone
  • Brick
  • Reinforced Concrete
  • Reinforced Brick

Signs of Lintel Failure

Signs of lintel failure can vary based on the material, but any type of deterioration around the top or at the corners of a door or window can be a significant indicator. Specific signs of lintel failure include:

  • Step cracking around the corners or sides of the opening
  • Step cracking above the opening
  • Cracked windowpanes
  • Sagging over the door frame
  • Window or door will not open
Foundation problem causing sheetrock cracks above door frame

Causes of Lintel Failure

Like the indicators of failure, the reason for their occurrence can vary based on the material. Most often, it is poor installation (or inadequate protection during installation) or poor maintenance.

  • Steel lintel can thin and weaken from pitting. Pitting is when rust forms on the surface of the steel and it eats away at the metal.
  • Moisture intrusion or poor ventilation can cause timber lintels to rot.
  • Poor material choice for lintel based on environment, structure’s intended use, and material of the rest of the structure.
  • Structural movements can lead to disruption of the lintel’s support.
  • Improper installation can cause water intrusion, mortar cracking, or material deterioration.


Lintel Inspections In Greater Tampa Bay

Lintel inspections are commonly conducted by county or city employees, who are code inspectors. Builders can opt for a third party to conduct construction phase inspections, which may be better for the builder on a tight timeline, as local code inspectors are often busy and come out on their schedule, not on the builder’s schedule.

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